12 August 2004
THIS WEEK IN THE CAPE LEAGUE
Cape League Intern TJ Lasita
When he gets to the ballpark every night, Kevin Roberts is never quite sure what his role will be. All that seems certain is the way Roberts will perform when called upon.
The Falmouth relief pitcher and infielder wasn’t in the starting lineup for the Commodores’ last two games of the West Division series, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t make an impact. Roberts made a clutch relief appearance on the hill in game two on Wednesday, then was called on to fill in at second base in game three on Thursday. While one appearance was on the mound and the other on the field, both performances had one thing in common: Roberts had to prepare quickly.
“I’ve had plenty of experience getting ready pretty fast, so it was really nothing new,” Roberts said.
The Commodores lost to Hyannis in the bottom of the eleventh inning of game two Wednesday, but without Roberts’ outing out of the bullpen, the game would have never lasted that long. The righthander from Houston entered the game with his team trailing by a run with one out in the seventh. The Mets were threatening, but Roberts quickly ended the scare, retiring the next two batters in order to end the inning. Roberts mowed down the Hyannis offense in order in the eighth, then allowed his only run of the game in the ninth. He pitched a spotless tenth before being removed in the top of the eleventh inning.
“I felt pretty good, all three of my pitches were working,” he said. “I was pleased with the way I threw. I gave up two hits, and they just happened to be in the same inning.”
The Mets took advantage for good after Roberts’ departure, setting up a decisive game three, with the winner going to the Cape League championship series and the loser going home. After pitching nearly four innings the night before, many players would relax and enjoy the game from the dugout. Kevin Roberts wasn’t sure what he’d be doing Thursday night, but lounging around the dugout was certainly not on the agenda.
“I was thinking that I need to prepare myself to pitch again as fast as possible,” he said.
As it turned out, the Commodores didn’t need Roberts to pitch in game three. Rather, they needed his glove at second base and his bat in the lineup. After shortstop Cliff Pennington hit first base awkwardly and injured his ankle in the third, Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy turned to the man that kept his team alive the night before: Kevin Roberts.
“When I saw him twist his ankle, I knew I was going in,” Roberts said. “There’s nothing you can really do except go out and stretch a little bit and get your mind ready. That’s the main thing.”
Trundy was confident that on little notice, Roberts would be able to prepare physically and mentally in a matter of seconds.
“He is a competitor, and we've been surrounded with competitors this summer,” Trundy said.
Had Pennington not been injured, Roberts likely would have never seen any action Thursday night. But there’s always chance, and Roberts is always ready.
“It’s pretty tough,” he said. “It’s hard when you’re a relief pitcher just sitting around cracking jokes, then all the sudden you have to go in the game and figure out what the situation is and prepare your mind.”
His mind, not to mention his bat and his glove were ready to go immediately. Running for Pennington, Roberts eventually came around to score, then he crossed the plate again after singling in the eighth. In the ninth, Roberts wooed the crowd--and his teammates--with a fine defensive play, diving to his left to field a ground ball and throwing while still on all fours to get his man at first.
“He came up with some clutch hits and an awesome play at the end, a Web Gem play,” said left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. “You can't get much better than that. He stepped in and did a great job.”
Not too bad for a guy who’s body was still feeling the effects of a draining pitching outing a day earlier.
“My arm was a little sore,” he said. “What’s really bothering me is my legs. To get the lactic acid out of my arm, I ran for about 35 minutes before the game. It made my arm feel better, but my lower half was a little slow.”
The Cape League championship begins Friday, but Kevin Roberts has no idea what he’ll be asked to do. Regardless, he’ll be ready. -T.J. Lasita, CCBL Intern, TJLasita@capecodbaseball.org
John Garner, Jr.